In today’s connected world, students are increasingly comfortable using video to communicate in their personal lives. From using Facetime to keep in contact with families at home to connecting via Google Hangout with friends studying abroad, students are coming into the classroom with a rich skill set of video collaboration methods, often without knowing it. Video has become second-nature to so many students. For effective learning, incorporating real-time video is increasingly important and can truly enhance student outcomes. Designing video into traditional, online, and hybrid classes is surprisingly easy:
Most students now have the capability to participate in an online video session. To take full advantage of the technology while keeping video conferencing manageable, especially in large classes, schedule them strategically throughout the class. The best times to hold them are at the beginning, as a get-to-know-you, and at the end, to celebrate achievements and cement relationships. During the course, small group work can involve video sessions as an adjunct to other real-time communications such as chat that add immediacy and intimacy.
As an example, Lafayette College has been implementing video conferencing as the online portion of a hybrid creative writing class. Students workshop their writings via video online for a feedback session that has similar immediacy to what they’re doing in the classroom. Using video as the online portion of a hybrid course is a good way to socialize online learning to students new to online work, since it feels very comfortable and mimics the in-class experience. For large classes, video can also facilitate group work, especially for working students who may need to sync schedules within project teams.
For all types of course, being able to bring in a guest lecturer otherwise not available is a great opportunity for students. Depending on time, the guest’s availability, and equipment, the experience can be very rich. One-way video is simplest for all, but if possible, incorporate two-way video and audio to allow for a full interaction. Even in otherwise traditional classes, adding a single online-only session to allow for meeting with a noted expert in the field on their schedule is usually worth it.
Small groups are an essential part of most classes. You can expand their reach by creating a wider range of them for online video meetings. It’s a good way to allow advanced students to work together on challenging projects, allow support for students finding challenges, or subdivide adult learners into career-relevant groups.
A beginning online course on accounting, for instance, could have groups for marketers to discuss calculating the return on investment for advertising, while healthcare professionals could discuss accounting topics relevant to their professions. For adult learners, relevance is key, and in a diverse group, extra video sessions can create relevant peer learning.
Having a video orientation early in a course can be immensely helpful to students if there’s something logistically complex or unusual about the class, or if they are new to the format of the class. Students can ask questions, you can point them to resources and clarify policies, and the class gets off on the right foot. This can take place even before the first class meets, so that you can dive into learning.
Incorporating video collaboration in learning has never been easier. The challenge is not technical, but rather to apply all the ways that it can enhance the student experience. Adding video in a few aspects of a course can be an immediate way to enrich student interaction, both with peers and instructors, and improve learning outcomes.